A Brief Overview of Christianity

Dr. Laurence Peter once said, “Going to church does not make you a Christian anymore than going to the garage makes you a car.” Well, in that case, what does make you a Christian? Moreover, what is Christianity? Where did it come from? In this essay I have made it my mission to answer these questions as factually and non-opinionated as possible. As you may or may not already know, Christianity is a religion that is that is virtually immersed in a vicious debate concerning the beliefs of those who follow it. As an Agnostic, I would like to allow you to freely make your own judgment on this debate, but in order to do so, I would like to ask you to first push aside any prejudice or former ideas on the topic that you might have. In this paper I have done my best to lay out as many facts on the topic as possible, not only from both sides, but in a nonbiased and non-deceptive way. If you believe I have failed to do so, please contact me so that I may make amendments to this paper as necessary.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of it, let’s start by taking a good look at Christianity. There are many separate sects (branches) of Christianity, each with their own interpretation of the Bible and the teachings of God. In a way, you can think of them all as individual restaurant of a popular food chain. Every restaurant has its own stock and menu, but the overall theme and idea remains the same. It is important to understand that all the facts in this paper apply to the majority of the sects unless otherwise mentioned. So, what makes all these different sects Christian and not completely different religions? Christians believe in a monotheistic god and (supposedly) follow the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Most sects follow the belief that Jesus will eventually return to Earth to judge all humans, both living and dead, and grant his followers eternal life.
Moving right along, Christianity developed a lot over the years, supposedly to ensure that it fit in with morals generally accepted by the majority of the world. It began as a Jewish sect and is technically classified as an Abrahamic religion. In Act 15, a church meeting in Jerusalem is called to set it at as an individual religion. Therefore it originated in Israel around 33 AD, at the time called Judea, a province of the Roman Empire. Christianity first spread among Jewish communities of the Eastern Mediterranean. As time went by (anywhere from a few months to a few years) Christianity begun spreading to non-Jews as well, increasing the number of Christians juristically. The term ‘Christian’ was first applied to the followers of Jesus in Antioch in Acts 11:26. From there Christianity took off and approximately one third of the Earth’s population is Christian, making Christianity the world’s largest religion.
Maybe you’ve noticed that many of the mythological stories from different ancient cultures share similarities with the stories from the bible. Take curing blind men with spit for example. When Jesus spits in clay and rubs it on the eyes of a blind man, he’s cured. The same thing happened when Emperor Vespasian spit in the eyes of a blind man. It can be argued that this alone is just a coincidence, but this is not the only thing. In Greek mythology, a boy by the name of Athens is born from a mortal woman and claimed to be the son of one of the gods in the Parthenon. Jesus of Nazareth was born from a mortal woman, Marry, and was claimed to be the Son of God. They are both depicted in sculptures of them carrying a young farm animal on their shoulders. The difference? Athens was from a culture from approximately 600 BC and Jesus was from a culture from approximately 100 AD. Things similar to this can be found throughout the bible, such as when Jesus turns water into wine, someone beat him to it about 700 years ago (Dionysus).
I’m sure you’ve heard about the numerous run-ins Christianity has had with violent wars in the name of God. Like I said in the first paragraph, I’ll do my best not to project my opinion into this and only layout the facts. One of the most well known wars of Christianity was the Crusades. The Crusades began in 1095 AD, when Christians decided that they wanted to take control of the Holy Land, Jerusalem, from the Muslims whom had had control over the city since 638. Before they had invaded, Christians had been allowed to freely visit the lands and come and go as they wish, but the wanted more. There were a total of seven main crusades from 1095-1291 AD, the first being the only real success. Raymond of Agiles said this on the matter, “Some of our men cut off the heads of their enemies; others shot them with arrows, so that they fell from the towers; others tortured them longer by casting them into the flames. Piles of heads, hands and feet were to be seen in the streets of the city. It was necessary to pick one's way over the bodies of men and horses. But these were small matters compared to what happened at the temple of Solomon, a place where religious services ware ordinarily chanted. What happened there? If I tell the truth, it will exceed your powers of belief. So let it suffice to say this much at least, that in the temple and portico of Solomon, men rode in blood up to their knees and bridle reins. “ After the first though, the Crusades led to repeated losses of cities and lives for the very people who were executing them. There was a good side to this though. As the Crusades led people to travel more in an attempt to conquer opened up multiple trade routes. It allowed for people to get a larger expanse of resources because they were exchanging what they had with others.
Today, Christianity takes up approximately one third of the Earth’s population and is one of the most controversial topics in existence. With a rich history and plenty of room for opinion, it makes for a popular field to study. Every year there are more stories about ‘The War on Atheism’, or ‘The Fight Against Christianity’, but honestly, what’s the point? It’s a war against ourselves and a fight among close relatives. Does it really need to be taken to such great measures? These are questions I have no answer to. But in writing this paper I began to see that it isn’t something to mock; people get murdered for that. Instead I’ll stay out on the sidelines and make my own decisions on the matter, and hope that you can do the same.